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  • West Fire survivor grateful for community help

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    West Fire survivor grateful for community help
    By the Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce  
        ​Thanks to caring, generous people, Alpine West Fire survivor Lisa Ford has a comfortable home for awhile.
    Her mobile home burned in the July 6 wildfire that flamed through east Alpine, destroying 38 homes and damaging 15 others. The blaze also burned or damaged about 27 other buildings. 
        ​At the time, Ford thought she would have to rebuild her life pretty much on her own. She had time to take only a few things as she escaped.
        ​“I didn’t realize the community would help me until they started coming to my daughter’s house,” said Ford, who’s now living temporarily in a house in Harbison Canyon. “To me, it’s a miracle. I didn’t realize there were so many good, loving people.”
    She wants everyone who helped her to know how much she appreciates their efforts. 
        ​“It’s very, very normal for people to feel that way,” said Robin Clegg, director of the county-wide Community Recovery Team which helps fire survivors. “A lot of times they want to give back themselves. (North County) Lilac Fire victims are now wanting to help with West Fire victims.”
        ​The Community Recovery Team has a case manager working with West Fire survivors to assess their needs, Clegg said.
    Ford, thought pictures of her current quarters, tastefully decorated with donated items, would assure people their contributions are being used, maintained and appreciated.
        ​“I want people to see what the community has created,” she said. “If it wasn’t for the generosity of the people, this would not have happened. They felt the trauma of the fire.”
    Ford had fire insurance, but she said it will not cover everything that burned. When the blaze began she was unemployed and recovering from the death of an employer who was a friend. Ford’s cat had also died. 
        ​“I was just taking it easy that day,” she said. “I was watching ‘The Price is Right’ on television. Suddenly the (TV) cable went out.”
    While using the phone to try to get the cable repaired, Ford lifted a blind. She saw “big flames, fire trucks, a lot of wind.”
    At first Ford thought the fire would be put out quickly. Then she heard a neighbor urgently yelling “let’s go” at his wife.
    After grabbing important papers, a little cash and her laptop computer, Ford got in her car and started to drive away.  By then a firefighter was banging on doors to get people out.
        ​Another firefighter flagged Ford down to see if she could take an elderly woman with her. 
        ​“I took her with me to my daughter’s house,” Ford said. “She was with us for a week. Her home didn’t burn.”
    It was different for Ford, who lost her children’s school papers, her family heirlooms ----even her crystal rocks. A charred but cherished piece of paper with inspirational writing was all she salvaged from the ashes of her mobile home. 
        ​The fire survivor, who is looking for work and now has a 2-month-old puppy for company, admitted there have been tears along the way as she rebuilds her life.
        ​But Ford is grateful that things weren’t worse, and that she is surrounded by furniture, household items, art work and other donations from a compassionate community.
        ​“It’s like all the puzzle pieces are coming together,” Ford said. “We’re all pieces of a puzzle. . . . What you put out there you will get back. This is all a reminder that people are wonderful.”
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